The passing of the bill, sponsored by Sen. Nicholas Tofowomo (PDP, Ondo), followed its consideration at plenary.
Leading debate on the bill, Tofowomo said the government had priority of enhancing economic diversity and the Ninth National Assembly had keyed into the concept of meaningful development.
According to him, Bitumen deposit in Ondo South covers Odigbo, Okitipupa and Irele local government areas which is about half of the senatorial district.
He said record indicated that Ondo South has the second largest Bitumen deposit in the whole world, after Venezuela with the largest deposit.
“Bitumen importation has been significant in Nigeria since military administration of Gen. Gowon (rtd.) and it has taken significant effect on our foreign exchange,” Tofowomo said.
He said many past administrations had played different roles in exploring Bitumen, adding that President Muhammadu Buhari had shown interest in Bitumen exploration since 2015.
He, however, said the Bitumen exploration had not been on a continuous basis because of different difficulties inherent in it.
“Bitumen is one of the richly deposited mineral resources in Nigeria and some African countries just like crude oil.
“It is found in Ondo, Lagos, Ogun and Edo states. Bitumen was discovered at first in 1900 and exploration began in 1905, Ondo State has large deposits in Sand/Bitumen and the state government has tried its exploration in the past without any achievement.
“There is environmental degradation caused by spilling of Bitumen and will create employment for the people in the region,” Tofowomo said.
According to him, Nigeria has an approximated estimate Bitumen reserve of 42.74 billion metric tonnes.
He said the establishment of Bitumen Institute would harmonise all past strides and researchers made on Bitumen exploration since 1905 and evolve a solid foundation for economic exploration of Bitumen in Nigeria.
According to him,the enactment of the bill will help transform the Bitumen potentials and fortunes in Nigeria via production of desired manpower and expertise to drive the Bitumen industry.
He said the host community and Ondo State Government were ready to provide 1000 acres of land for the establishment of the institute.
Senate President, Ahmad Lawan, referred the bill to the Committee on Solid Minerals for further legislative inputs.